About broadband speed

When you sign up with us, move home/office, or change your package, we'll give you an estimate of the speed you should be getting. For example, an estimate would be something like '3.5 to 5Mb'. This is known as your 'line speed' or 'sync speed'. It's what your broadband is capable of if everything's working at its best.

The actual speed you get when you're online depends on how fast your download and upload speeds are. So it's slower than your line speed. It's known as your 'throughput speed' and is what you actually experience when using your broadband. It can be affected by different things, like the website you're on, your Wi-Fi connection, if you're online at a busy time, how many people are sharing your connection and the quality of your line.

When we tell you how fast your broadband will be, we're estimating the download and upload speeds that are possible between your router and the Plusnet equipment in the local telephone exchange.

You can check what speed you're getting at the moment. If it's already the fastest possible on your line, you won't be able to make it any better by changing your settings. But if it's lower than it should be, watch our video to find out how you can help speed things up.

Standard broadband speed

You can get up to 17Mb, but the actual speed you'll get is affected by:

  • how far you are from the telephone exchange – the further away you are, the slower it'll be
  • whether the exchange has been upgraded – if it has, it'll be faster
  • the quality of your phone line – if it's in poor condition, it won't be as fast
  • the type of broadband available where you live – in some places, BT's lines don't support speeds of up to 17Mb, so you might only be able to get speeds of up to 6Mb.

Fibre broadband speed

You can get up to 76Mb, but the actual speed you'll get is affected by:

  • how far you are from the green cabinet – the further away you are, the slower it'll be
  • the quality of your phone line – if it's in poor condition, it won't be as fast
  • the package you chose – depending on your line speed estimate, you might be able to upgrade to Unlimited Fibre Extra.

When we first set up your broadband, we won't know exactly how fast it'll be. It'll take a little while to get to a more settled speed. Here's what you can expect.

The first ten days

To find out your eventual speed, we'll run some tests from your telephone exchange. Because of that, the speed will go up and down and you might get disconnected a few times. But don't worry, that doesn't mean there's a problem, it just means we're trying to find the best balance between speed and reliability for you.

After ten days

Your broadband will settle into a speed close to the estimate we gave when you signed up. Small changes are normal and nothing to worry about. If there's a problem affecting your connection, the speed will go down for a while to give you the most reliable service possible.

A quick and easy way to check it is to go to mybroadbandspeed.co.uk and follow the steps to run a few tests. If the results are slower than the estimate we gave you when you first signed up, have a look at our problem-solving tips.

Broadband faults

Any fault will slow down your broadband, especially if it keeps disconnecting because of it. When that happens, it can take up to three days before it goes back to normal while we test and adjust your connection to find the best, most reliable speed.

Faults on the line

If there's a fault on the phone line, you'll have trouble connecting to the Internet. Usually, when the phone line is fixed, your connection will go back to normal. But because that's happened, the speed will drop for the next few days while we sort out your connection again.

Using Wi-Fi

If you're online using Wi-Fi, several things can slow down your connection. These include things like how far away you are from your router, whether you have thick brick walls, or any interference from household appliances. If that's the case, try our tips for getting a better Wi-Fi signal.

Household appliances

Household appliances like cordless phones, baby monitors and microwaves can cause interference, especially to Wi-Fi, and slow your speed down.

Not using microfilters

A microfilter is a device that has a plug and two sockets. If you don't have two sockets on your master socket you'll need a filter on every phone socket that you're using in your home. You plug it into your phone socket in the wall and then plug your broadband and phone cables into it. It stops the two signals interfering with each other.

Microfilter showing two sockets

Bad weather

Heavy rain and thunderstorms can play havoc with your broadband. They can even damage your equipment permanently. If there's a really bad storm, it's a good idea to unplug your broadband router until it's over.

Your computer

If you've got an old computer (more than three years old), it might be slower because it's having trouble running the latest software and programs. So when you go online, it seems as if it's your broadband that's slow.

Viruses also slow everything down, so make sure your computer's protected against them. We recommend getting Plusnet Protect powered by McAfee.

Busy times

Even though our network won't slow down at peak times, some specific websites might.

There are some things you can do to help it be as fast as possible.

Leave your router switched on

It's best to leave it on, even at night. When you switch it off and on a lot, it makes it look like your line's unstable. When that happens, your telephone exchange will temporarily make your speed lower because it thinks your line can't cope with anything higher.

Check your Wi-Fi signal

Using Wi-Fi? If you've got a lot of devices connected at the same time, it'll slow down your connection. If you're using a desktop or laptop, try connecting it to your router with an Ethernet cable.

If you're getting a low signal a lot, try these tips to improve it.

Use microfilters

A microfilter is a device with two sockets that you plug into your phone socket in the wall. It'll stop your broadband and phone line from interfering with each other. If you don't have one, your broadband could be slower, not work at all, or you might hear a high-pitched noise when you make phone calls.

You need a filter on every phone socket that you're using in your home (unless your master socket has two sockets with one dedicated to broadband already). So, as well as the phone socket you use for your broadband, make sure you use a microfilter in any other phone sockets that are used for:

  • phones
  • set-top boxes
  • burglar alarms
  • fax machines
Microfilter showing two sockets

Try not to use phone extension cables

Extension cables can cause interference on the line, which slows down your broadband. It's better to use Wi-Fi if your router and computer are too far away from each other to connect with a cable. If you do need to use an extension cable, make sure it's new, high-quality and as short as possible.

Use the master socket

This is the best place to plug in your router. You'll usually find it where your phone line comes into your home.

Some homes don't have master sockets. In that case, use the one closest to where your phone line comes into your home. Have a look at our video if you'd like to find out more.

Switch off interleaving

Interleaving is what we do to improve your broadband signal and give you a more reliable connection. It can add a small delay to your connection, which can affect you if you do things like online gaming. Switching off interleaving can give you a less reliable service. But if you find your connection too slow and you'd like to switch it off, just give us a call or chat to us online and we'll sort that out for you. (This only works for standard broadband, so you won't be able to switch it off if you've got fibre broadband.)